Tag Archives: yoga

No Expectations, Just Experience

Maybe I always believed in “bursting the boundaries.” After 40 years of chronic illness, it seems so. This kind of “resistance” to medical expectations takes a certain amount of naïveté, and I don’t mind admitting that.

It also means staying in the moment, regardless of the experience it offers–no expectations, just experience. And sometimes, I burst a boundary, like today.

I have been released from the care of my orthopedic surgeon who could not be more pleased with my progress. The fracture of my right femur is healing “beautifully” and growing new bone. The hip-joint replacement was pronounced “perfect.”

Medical expectations had been low.

I knew today’s x-ray results would be fine because of how my right hip and femur feel. And the x-rays supported my body’s signals. X-ray is such a wonderful way to look within the body to its structure.

I was reminded of the fusion of bone that is taking place in my neck, even more bone growth. That was not the expectation, either.

As someone with chronic autoimmune disease, I’m not the best candidate for healing, especially with medications like prednisone and methotrexate. Medical skepticism is not unwarranted.

I don’t ignore expectation but it does not occupy my time.

My focus is on what I eat and how I live, in particular my daily practice of meditation and yoga. I stay open to my body’s signals; they are my purpose. Healing will or will not occur.

It is a matter of feeding my body nutrient dense food no matter how I am feeling. In fact, the worse I feel, the more critical nutrition is. A single moment might be one of physical pain, frustration, hopelessness, fear, and fatigue—and it might last days—eating is fuel, food is energy.

Hope drifts in and out of moments. I let it go. I remain present for my pain, intertwining medication with yoga, working with the meditative state in my day-to-day. I meet my energy and even out its fluctuations.

What is the point in yearning for what my body cannot offer? Why not work with what it can? After all, “life always bursts the boundaries of formulas” (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry).

So it seems, so it seems.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

Yours For the Taking

This morning, I walked away from my walker without realizing it. I did not return to it immediately. It was a bit of freedom. Why not take it?

Mine is a two-room apartment so this was not a walk for distance or duration but it was a walk with an actual gait. I focused on each step, sensing a rhythm.

Is that what a blur on an x-ray might bring? Rhythm? Is that what “teeny” fusing of donor bone with my vertebrae feels like? I’ve been here before, too aware that such a blur may be in the eye of the beholder.

A year and a half ago it seemed my neck was healing after C2-C4 fusion surgery, only to be later told later no healing was taking place. The neck is the “piece of real estate” that controls my limbs; daily, basic yoga helps me work with the signals they send me.

In all ways, this feels a matter of nerve. Do I have what it takes to believe again? Is that what hope is?  I don’t think any one thing–like an x-ray–can give me hope any more than one person can take it from me.

It is mine to give or not to take. Hope is always available. In every moment, I’m given yet another perspective on the obstacle that is my path. In this moment, it is a blur on an x-ray.

It is not a matter of “getting my life back” for this is my life, this moment right here. I don’t want to miss a moment of it. So, in the early light of this morning, I walked.

As Emily Dickinson wrote, “if your nerve deny you— go above your nerve.” It is yours for the taking.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

At Some Point, It’s a Leap

As I finished my morning yoga practice, I paused to look out my front room window.  A squirrel was jumping from limb to limb.

A wish from long ago dropped in: Oh, if all I had to do was leap from limb to limb….

It seemed so carefree, and I longed to escape. The world was so hard.

Everywhere I looked it seemed that everyone’s life was easier than mine, not simpler, surely, but easier. They seemed to know when to leap.

Just the very thought of risk frightened me so much I didn’t recognize that a leap from limb to limb is risk disguised as grace.

The only care the squirrel has is survival, like every life form on the planet.

Some of us just accept that better or seemingly so. 😉

We are not all brave all the time, and I suspect squirrels are also reluctant. After all, the leap to the next limb may bring the unexpected. At the very least it brings a bit of the unknown.

In these years, I know there is no staying on one limb too long.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

Either Way, It’s Rain

Now is a dark night of the soul for me. It has been for a while but I have not sat with the darkness as I do now. It is all around me, mine to explore. Darkness always holds a sliver of light, elusive as it may seem to be.

Experience tells me that, and I trust it.

At best, the days are foggy, my mind muddled. Desperately, I grab at this phrase or that word, although none seem right. It is only when I stop grasping that words appear.

I have no idea if they are what I first wanted but in this moment, want takes a backseat to need. Unsurprisingly, that is comfortable, even comforting.

Meditation allows me to sit with despair; yoga keeps my body from stiffening into it. Like having one mindset, the body comes to prefer the position that is comfortable.

To invite stasis is to stay in darkness without ever exploring it. That is a hard, hard rain. Stasis is not the experience I seek.

As I have written many times, chronic illness is a great teacher. It offers a variety of lesson plans, not the least of which is learning to “crumble,” to surrender myself for one that is yet to be.

Such a shedding takes time, if I am to learn from life changing. At 65, or nearly so, I prefer learning, no matter what it requires ultimately. It is a far, far gentler rain.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

Perfect Storm: My Energy for the Day

Physically, this is a perfect storm day for me. My spinal cord and autoimmune disease are merging into my version of a category one hurricane. I predict it will not become a category five.

After 40 years, my forecasts are fairly reliable.

How I engage this powerful energy determines the life of the storm. There is no destroying chronic illness but there are ways to extract its energy.

My immune system is stuck in on–fight mode–so infections are rare but joint pain, fatigue, and anemia are chronic. Spinal cord disease affects my limbs.

Together, they have taught me to appreciate the daily doses of energy available.

As they are teachers, they require attendance and attention. Always, there are daily lessons. No day begins without meditation, the mind-body’s way of becoming completely present both within and outside the body.

perfect-storm-091916

I practice mindfulness meditation–“sitting” with sensations—immersing myself in their rising and detaching as they subside. I do not meditate to escape.

A gentle yoga practice works with the signals my body sends, in particular pain. Meditation strips away the fear and anxiety surrounding pain, leaving pure energy; in yoga, the breath softens the signals into a solitary, vibrant flow.

Both meditation and yoga open me to the experience that is this day and this day alone. Tomorrow is, well…tomorrow. What they have in common is love, the energy that animates our being.

The only meaningful thing we can offer one another is love.

Not advice, not questions about our choices,

not suggestions for the future, just love.

 Glennon Doyle Melton

I know that life is impermanent; I suspect love is invincible.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity in daily doses. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.